Tuesday sees the release of Achtung Baby: 20th Anniversary Edition, a reissue by Universal of U2’s groundbreaking album that comes in the form of a double CD as well as an exhaustive box set of remixes, b-sides, videos and unreleased tracks. The four previously unreleased songs below were recorded during the original recording sessions in Dublin and Berlin.
Blow Your House Down (clip streaming at iTunes)
A stomp-it-up Elvis Costello beat leads to a sweeping chorus about a woman who doesn’t need to huff and puff to blow down domiciles. The dirty, pumping guitar riff would live on in future material ( Get on Your Boots and the like).
Heaven and Hell (clip streaming at iTunes)
A sad, slow dance, on a hymn-like bed of Hammond organ, recorded in the Dublin demo sessions before the trip to Berlin. If U2 was looking for a new sound, this bittersweet soul ballad – with an unforeseeable (perhaps unfortunate) touch of doo-wop – wasn’t it.
Oh Berlin (clip streaming at iTunes)
“To change location, rather than change yourself / to ask for directions, rather than ask for help.” A tense, moody ode to the city where U2 regained its mojo could have served as a prologue to Achtung Baby. The staccato guitar of course belongs to the Edge.
Down All the Days (clip streaming at iTunes)
The scraping guitar noise was new, but the melody and the down-tempo melancholia were a hangover from U2’s The Joshua Tree (1987). With this explorative track (which eventually morphed into Numb, on the 1993 album Zooropa), the band still hadn’t found what it was looking for, but it was getting close.
Essential video: From the Sky Down (trailer streaming at U2.com)
“It’s all right, it’s all right” – in fact, it wasn’t all right at all. Davis Guggenheim’s peek behind the studio curtains chronicles a band’s pivotal mid-career reinvention, from the bottom up. Packed with archival footage and candid interviews, the feature documentary premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.